In addition to moving a crowd through music, Chicago blue musician, Daryl Davis is using the simple method of kindness and friendship to win people over. And it happens that his technique has worked on some unexpected people. In a documentary released during the SXSW festival, Davis reveals that he convinced 25 men to leave the KKK with simply acts of the heart.
The documentary, Accidental Courtesy, which premiered at the Texas festival, depicts Davis as he tells the tale of his lengthy journey as a black man to approach and befriend white supremacists and members of the infamous Klan. “I try to bring out the humanity in people. We all are human beings at the end of the day,” he told The Daily Beast of his efforts.
The film takes a walk back in time to 1983, when he played in an all-white, country lounge. According to Davis, he was approached by a white man in the lounge who told him that he never heard a black man play as well as Jerry Lee Lewis. After he told the man that he actually knew Lewis and that he was taught by a black man, the two struct up a conversation where the man revealed to be a Klansman.
Eventually, the conversation led to the friendship between Davis and Roger Kelly. Kelly later stepped down as the leader of the KKK in Maryland. The documentary recounts many other stories like them.
And as proof of this triumph, Davis has been photographed with the robes and hoods given to him by former Klan members. “You’re going to be on one side, somebody’s going to be on the other side,” Davis said during the SXSW screening, “invite those people to the table. Sit down and talk. Because when two enemies are talking, they’re not fighting.”
It seems that sometimes all it takes is a couple of kind words and a friendly spirit. Check out Daryl Davis’s interview with CNN from 2012 below. You can also check out more images of Davis and KKK members here: